Saturday 10 July 2021

Movie Review: The Woman In The Window (2021)

A psychological suspense drama with horror elements, The Woman In The Window weaves a decent but logic-challenged mystery involving grief, loneliness, hallucinations, and crime.

In Manhattan, Dr. Anna Fox (Amy Adams), a child psychologist, suffers from agoraphobia and refuses to leave her house. She is separated from her husband Edward (Anthony Mackie), who looks after their eight year old daughter. Anna has a shaky friendship with her basement tenant David Winter (Wyatt Russell), a singer/songwriter/handyman, and holds weekly sessions with her therapist Karl Landy (Tracy Letts), who is tinkering with her medications. But she spends most of her days snooping on neighbours through her windows.

She quickly gets involved in the lives of new neighbours the Russells and meets their awkward teenaged son Ethan (Fred Hechinger), then his vivacious mother Jane (Julianne Moore) comes for a visit, and finally Ethan's mysterious father Alistair (Gary Oldman) briefly drops by. Anna's world in thrown into turmoil when she witnesses what appears to be a murder at the Russell house, but all may not be what it seems.

Directed by Joe Wright and written by Letts, The Woman In The Window carries ambitions to salute Hitchcock's Rear Window. And equipped with a housebound protagonist and a camera for better zoom and focus, it's a not-bad effort. Anna's fragile mental state creates a milieu where anything is possible as either reality or imagination, and Wright exploits her dark and empty house as a solid foundation for appropriate spookiness.

Anna is lonely, suicidal, mixing alcohol with medication, and watching too many old movies. The people closest to her are a good mix of slightly creepy (David) and slightly smarmy (Landy), but then the Russells arrive and give her a jolt of excitement. Anna's motherly instincts and child psychologist training immediately kick in with the troubled Ethan. Then a fun session of wine and talk appears to offer the potential for friendship with Jane, but the stern Alistair remains cold and aloof.

When the blood splatters and carnage is unleashed, the narrative initially remains strong. Anna is forced to confront her troubled life and reexamine everything she thinks she knows, Amy Adams delivering another stunningly engaging performance as a woman trying to stumble out of a mental fog. But the final act is disappointing, resorting to unworthy slasher cliches, stabbing holes in plenty of the preceding build-up and attempting to have it both ways, Anna both right and wrong on all counts.

The Woman In The Window peeks at the tantalizing world outside, but can't quite confidently stride out.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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